Situated at the headwaters of Bear Creek in the John Muir Wilderness in Sierra National Forest, Mount Hooper is the striking, prominent pyramid west of Selden Pass and the John Muir Trail. The peak makes an easy side trip for JMT hikers, or a nice daytrip or overnight outing otherwise. The basin to the east including Marie Lake and Rose Lake is open but large enough to afford many opportunities for scenic yet secluded camping, even with the aforementioned very popular John Muir Trail running right through the middle.
Most approaches to Mount Hooper are begun from trailheads to the west unless part of a John Muir Trail side trip and the common routes to the summit are mostly class 1 or class 2 terrain. The summit block is rated as class 4 by some, but is not nearly as difficult as it looks and makes an enjoyable obstacle at the end. The view from the top includes prominent peaks such as Mount Lyell, Mount Ritter, Mount Abbot, Seven Gables, Mount Humphreys, Mount Goddard, and a diverse scattering of large and small lakes below.
A bee has its way with an alpine gold above Chamberlain Lake on Mount Hooper
Route Map Hooper Diversion Dam
Mount Hooper is most easily approached from the west out of Florence Lake, or alternatively via nearby Lake Edison a short distance to the north. Approaches from the east via Piute Pass or Pine Creek Pass are certainly possible, but add quite a bit of distance and even more elevation gain. Mount Hooper can also be done as a quick side trip if already hiking the John Muir Trail.
Beginning from the Hooper Creek Diversion Dam just two miles from Florence Lake is by far the shortest and most recommended option, especially if you have a high clearance vehicle and are familiar with cross country travel.
Note that the final 18 miles of the drive to Lake Edison and Florence Lake are on a bumpy, winding (but paved) road that is often only one lane wide as you approach the trailhead. Allow 45-60 minutes for this portion of the drive.
|Florence Lake (37.27671° N, 118.97660° W)|
From the Central Valley make your way towards Prather and continue east on Highway 168 towards Shaver Lake and then Huntington Lake, following the obvious road signs. At Huntington Lake, turn right onto well designated Kaiser Pass Road and follow it another 17 miles to an intersection where the road splits to Lake Edison. Instead of turning to Lake Edison, continue straight here for another 6 miles to Florence Lake.
|Hooper Creek Diversion Dam (37.30573° N, 118.95029° W)|
Due to the crossing of the Florence Lake outlet on this route, a high clearance vehicle is recommended for this trailhead, although in fall it may be possible to make it with a low clearance vehicle. A 4x4 is not necessary. The OHV road isn’t very long, and if needed walking the off pavement portion adds only a couple of miles at most. Follow the directions above to Florence Lake, but a quarter mile before reaching the lake turn left at the signed intersection towards Jackass Meadow and the Hooper Diversion OHV Road. In less than a mile the pavement ends as you turn left onto the OHV road. Follow the OHV road as it crosses the outlet of Florence Lake and bear right at an intersection 1.8 miles from the beginning of the OHV road. The road ends at the Hooper Diversion Dam about 2.2 miles from the start.
|Lake Edison (37.36735° N, 118.98340° W)|
Follow the directions mentioned above from Prather to Florence Lake, turning left at the intersection 17 miles after Huntington Lake towards Lake Edison. Follow the road another 6 miles to Lake Edison. Alternatively, the Bear Creek Diversion Dam trailhead can be used, turn right onto the OHV road 3 miles from the turnoff to Lake Edison and follow it 2 miles to the diversion dam (four wheel drive is necessary).
|Florence Lake||15.7 miles one-way||5800 feet|
+800 feet on return
|From the Florence Lake Trailhead wrap around the southwest side of Florence Lake and cross its inlet via a footbridge after 3.6 miles. After 8 miles pass the Muir Trail Ranch and soon turn left (north) at a junction towards Seldon Pass and eventually onto the John Muir Trail. The trail begins a steep ascent before easing at Sallie Keyes Lakes. Once at Selden Pass Mount Hooper is visible to the wast as a prominent, pyramid-shaped peak just over a mile away. Head cross-country over very easy rocky terrain into the bowl with a small lake immediately east of Mount Hooper. Ascend to the small saddle south of Mount Hooper, drop down slightly and head west on the south slope for a short distance to wrap around the cliffs on the southeast ridge until reaching the class 2 slopes to the summit. Alternatively you can cross over the southeast ridge through a break in the cliffs about 200 feet above the saddle, though this is probably easier to do on the descent.|
|Florence Lake Ferry||12.0 miles one-way||5400 feet|
+400 feet on return
|If the timing works for your party it is possible to take the ferry across Florence Lake, saving the effort of walking around the southwestern shoreline. The ferry operates several times each day in season (generally early June to late September). For the most current information, check the Florence Lake Ferry Service website. From the east shore of Florence Lake, follow the remaining route description above.|
|Hooper Creek Diversion Dam||3.5 miles one-way||4800 feet|
negligible gain on return
|This route is by far the quickest and easiest to the summit if you are familiar with cross-country travel, and even if you need to park a low clearance vehicle at the outlet of Florence Lake it adds only 1.9 miles each way and 300 feet gain total to your journey. From the diversion dam, head upslope on the right and simply traverse your way towards the outlet of Chamberlain Lake as shown on the route map. Except for a little brush in the beginning the travel is very easy and without bushwacking. Note that hunters have placed cairns all over the slopes here, as will be evidenced by your uncanny ability to randomly find them. Once at Chamberlain Lake turn towards Mount Hooper to your left. Follow the steep, sandy class 2 slopes to the summit.|
|Lake Edison||14.3 miles one-way||5900 feet|
+1100 feet on return
|Lake Edison is yet another option to reach Mount Hooper. From the southwestern shore of the lake (near the dam) follow the trail up and over Bear Ridge, meeting the John Muir Trail after 5 miles. The John Muir Trail descends through the forest to reach Bear Creek 6.8 miles from the trailhead. Most of the route follows Bear Creek, but note the crossing of the Hilgard Branch (8.7 miles in) and especially Bear Creek (9.9 miles in) can sometimes be challenging during the peak runoff of heavy snow years. After the trail crosses Bear Creek it ascends to Marie Lake. From the southern shore of Marie Lake depart the trail and follow the directions above for the Florence Lake route beginning from Selden Pass.|
Mount Hooper Summit
Though some (including the Sierra Peaks Section and R. J. Secor) rate the summit block as class 4 and others even bring a rope to protect the final summit moves, it really is not that difficult nor is a rope warranted for most individuals. The easiest route is actually class 3 and wraps around the west side of the summit block from the base, no real routefinding involved. The ledges and blocks on the west side are near an exposed cliff as you wrap around, but most would consider the moves on this portion more like class 2 and therefore not really subject to a fall (though it may feel otherwise for those concerned about heights). Once on the north side of the summit, a class 3 move is required to gain the final few feet, again not significantly exposed but it is perhaps among the more difficult of class 3 moves.
The other popular route up the summit block is via the very obvious crack on the south side as you approach. The crack is rated 5.4 and about 10 feet high, but other than this there is no direct exposure. Both routes can easily be ascended or descended if you are comfortable on such terrain.
Marie Lake and Seven Gables from Mount Hooper
Mount Hooper is in the John Muir Wilderness within the Sierra National Forest. No permits are required for day trips but overnight trips require one throughout the year. Quotas are in place year round and are most conveniently picked up at the High Sierra Visitor Information Station on Kaiser Pass Road (one mile before the split between Lake Edison and Florence Lake, open seasonally) or the High Sierra Ranger District office in Prather. Check the Sierra National Forest website
for the most current information.
No bear canisters are required, but proper food storage is a must.
Fires are prohibited above 10,000 feet.
High Sierra Ranger District Office
29688 Auberry Rd
Prather, CA 93651
Current ConditionsCurrent NOAA / National Weather Service Forecast
When to Climb
Highway 168 is not plowed past Huntington Lake in winter, consequently spring through fall are the most realistic times for a visit (a winter approach will add 22 miles to the journey, each way). In early season snow is present at higher elevations, but those familiar with snow conditions should not have any difficulties.
Camp at Marie Lake
Backcountry camping options are fantastic all around Mount Hooper. Marie Lake is very scenic and popular, due to its proximity to the well traveled John Muir Trail. Camping locations will not be an issue, and even at Marie Lake seclusion can be found simply by heading over to the east side (opposite the trail) of the mile-long lake. Chamberlain Lake is another option if approaching from the Hooper Diversion Dam, and there are literally dozens of other options in the Mount Hooper vicinity as well, both well traveled and not.
There are many options for staying in established campgrounds at both Florence Lake and nearby Lake Edison, as well as on the drive in from Kaiser Pass. Most campgrounds are first-come, first-serve, though a few can be reserved. Check the Sierra National Forest website
for the most current information.
Dispersed camping is allowed throughout most of Sierra National Forest, and is a good alternative to staying in an established campground.
"Major William Burchell Hooper (1836-1903), a native of Virginia; at one time owned the Occidental Hotel is San Francisco. The mountain and the creek were named by R. B. Marshall, USGS, probably during the 1907-09 survey for the Mt. Goddard
30' map; both names are on the first edition, 1912. (Farquhar: Marshall.) Hooper Lake was named in 1948 by Scott M. Soule and Jack Criqui of the DFG, 'because it is at the headwaters of Hooper Creek and directly under Mount Hooper.' (Heyward Moore, FPP
25, no. 5, Spring 1984: 11.)” – Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada (2004)